Step forward with confidence
LRT in Hamilton is a win-win proposition: This is not the time for cold feet
Why on earth would we shoot ourselves in the foot on this game-changing project?
Ask your candidates who do not support light rail transit (LRT) why they are not standing up for Hamilton’s transit needs.
Yes, the HSR bus system needs upgrading (and you can also ask your councillor why it has languished for years) but doing that, coupled with LRT is a win-win.
Supporting LRT and the HSR are not mutually exclusive.
The B- Line from Eastgate to McMaster will form a robust backbone of the multi-lined BLAST network, which after a modest start will undoubtedly be called to expand once riders experience a much-improved transit experience.
This is not “pie-in-the-sky” speculation.
With a few exceptions, almost every LRT system that started small has opted to expand their system. And why not?
I have taken rides on several LRT systems in Europe and marvelled at the clean, efficient, comfortable ride.
The station stops have level, multidoor entrances that permit much faster on and off loading, reducing transit travel times.
The roll-on, roll-off level floors are particularly important.
Now add signals that allow the LRT cars to pass through intersections with priority — plus dedicated rights-of-way where the road width permits — and transit times drop further.
Aside from pure economics there are many other advantages.
The entire capital cost is covered by the province (and we are lucky as other municipalities have to kick in at least 1/3 of their capital costs). We will be responsible for the operational costs (no surprise there).
But think of it — LRT is cheaper to operate per passenger/kilometre than BRT (Bus Rapid Transit).
The cars are built to last 30 years versus 15 for buses.
LRT has only one operator for 150-250 passengers per vehicle (depending on design). During peak service times, two or more LRT cars can be lashed together lowering the per passenger cost even further.
Since labour costs are often the highest in any operating budget, having one operator will save a lot of money in day-to-day operations.
People falsely claim there will be congestion due to LRT tracks taking up a lane of traffic, but neglect to tell you that BRT also has dedicated lanes so that point is a non-starter.
LRT (not BRT) has proven in other cities to be an economic driver for residential and commercial development.
Developers are already building and planning projects along the LRT line in anticipation of its arrival. You can’t help but notice the real estate ads that boast the advantage of being “steps to the LRT.”
Development aside, what it really means is more infill, more people living, working and relaxing in the city, meaning higher tax revenues that are badly needed for further infrastructure work.
And once again back to economics: Included in the cost of the 14-kilometre line is the replacement of buried and surface infrastructure.
That means new sewer lines, new water lines, other new utilities like fibre optics, new sidewalks, new pedestrian amenities, new bike lanes (where applicable), new traffic lights, new street lighting, new street furniture and brand new pavement. This would cost the city hundreds of millions of dollars without LRT.
Building more roads is not the answer.
They are hideously expensive to build and with our climate (remember the potholes on Main West last spring anyone?) and expensive to maintain.
Not sure I am on the right track? Why then is LRT backed by every major educational institution (McMaster, Mohawk, Redeemer, Columbia, Public and Catholic School Boards)?
Why is it favoured by such disparate bedfellows as Environment Hamilton and Hamilton-Halton Homebuilders Association?
Throw in numerous small, medium and large companies, ArcelorMittal, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and the Chamber of Commerce.
I urge you to carefully consider what your candidate’s stand is on light rail transit and vote accordingly.
This is not the time for cold feet.
A light rail transit car in Kitchener-Waterloo, where millions of dollars are being generated by new development along the LRT line.